Exactly one year ago I arrived back in the Netherlands to live, again, for good, after 3.5 years living in California, again. What a coincidence with the one year anniversary of this pandemic. I promise that is only a coincidence.

I went back and read my blog post from March 23, 2020 where I listed the top 10 reasons I was happy to be back in NL. They are all still true, except for the one about political leaders. The crazy man is out of the White House, and at the same time our leaders here in NL are showing themselves to be less than open and honest and often not competent to handle this crisis. I’ve been thinking lately about what I miss most about living in the U.S., and it’s a pretty small list:

  1. Friends and family – obviously. Especially my mom. Especially my spinning group in Redlands who saved my sanity many times. I do miss a thriving fiber community. While the knitting community in Amsterdam, and NL in general, is pretty amazing, it just not the same as the welcoming and interesting entire fiber arts scene in the U.S., and surprisingly SoCal (being a hot climate).
  2. Space – this is always my issue living in a tightly packed country where it’s impossible to go a day without seeing people and no wilderness at all. Our house is large by Dutch standards, but very small by U.S. standards. But all our stuff fits and honestly what more “stuff” does a person need?
  3. Variety of food – I didn’t realize how much I would miss being able to choose from 50 different brands of yogurt. Here there are 2. Maybe 3 if you look hard. I order baking ingredients from a speciality web shop. We had to order Swiss cheese from a shop in another town because you can only find Dutch cheese in our town and a little commercial French cheese. And it’s a good thing I like broccoli. I suppose I should learn to like Brussels sprouts. I miss all the varieties of winter squash (here there is 1), good avocados (you’re lucky here when they are not black or hard), any kind of Mexican food and good sushi. I probably shouldn’t even mention good thick juicy steaks since we should all be eating less red meat.
  4. Sunshine – I just ordered a daylight SAD treatment light to help me deal with these grey days and lack of sunshine. By the time March comes around I’m really feeling it – like an itch I can’t scratch, an irritation that only a day of sunshine in the mountains can fix. Or hopefully a SAD lamp.

And that’s it. I do miss my big car, but I don’t miss the crowded highways and where can you go these days anyway?

So that’s my moan about what I miss after living one year in the Netherlands after 3.5 in the U.S. There are other things I’m missing like crazy right now but they are related to the pandemic and not where I live, like going out, concerts, restaurants, movie theaters, etc etc. Not to mention seeing friends IRL. Can we be hopeful that this will change within 6 months? I think so.

In craft news, the ceramics class I signed up for is postponed til the end of March due to the pandemic. I hope it can start then and not be postponed again. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about pottery and ceramics and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.

You haven’t seen much knitting news from me lately (here or on Instagram) because I’ve been either knitting gifts that I can’t show yet, or a new design that I’m not ready to share. However, I just gave one gift, and it’s been received, so I can share it online now. This is a baby blanket made for Ben and Asha, who are divers, so fish are a perfect design for their second baby.

The yarn is Life in the Long Grass DK and I used exactly 4 skeins for this blanket. Details on my Ravelry projects page.

I’ve also just finished the 3rd border section of a christening blanket, in fine Shetland lace that I spun myself. I only have 1 more section to knit and then I can block it and sew it all together. I will be very happy to have it finished and ready to deliver. No photos now because it is still a surprise. They know I’m making it, but have no idea what it looks like.

The photo above was taken during our walk today, just a few minutes from our house. There are more photos from the day on Insta. It’s another cold grey day, but people are out walking and biking anyway. Scout doesn’t care. She’s just happy to be outside, smelling everything, eating the occasional rabbit droppings found on the dike, watching birds.

Have a good week. Coming up next week – iPhone camera vs entry level Nikon camera. Ooooo spannend.

Top 10 – Flickr isn’t gay

Not too long ago DB and I told members of his family that we used Flickr. We know full well that “flikker” in Dutch means a flaming homo, which made for pretty funny looks on their faces. We then explained that Flickr is photo sharing and storage online and is really very cool indeed.

Flickr isn’t perfect however. The bulk upload is painful to use. Browsing photos is slow and not customizable. But the faithful followers of Flickr have created many plug-ins and tools that makes it even cooler.

Here’s a link to Thomas Hawk’s top 10 Flickr hacks. Check it out. Really.

Top Ten – New Year’s Resolutions

It’s well past Jan 1, but my Official New Year’s Resolutions have not yet been published. This does not mean that, on 14 Jan I have only figured out what they should be. It only means that I have not yet been living up to all of them, namely

#10 – Post on the blog at least once per week. The poor blog has been sorely neglected lately with holidays things to do, starting a new job, and basically not much leisure time. No excuses. Just get on with it, or delete it altogether.

Of course #10 would be helped greatly by

#9 – Get organized. We live in a small apartment. OK, small by any other than Dutch standards. By Amsterdam standards it’s damn near spacious. No matter how big you think it is, there is absolutely no space whatsoever to accumulate stuff. And I get grumpy when I feel surrounded by clutter and am unorganized. Already I’ve got 3 bags of old clothes to go out, have shipped unused xbox stuff to my nephew, and we’re nearly finished setting up new IKEA closets. Ah… I feel better already.

To keep down the clutter you just have to stop bringing stuff into the house. Don’t buy stuff. In my case

#8 – It’s OK to get rid of books before you buy more books. We don’t own a library. We don’t have space to build one. Not every book I’ve ever bought and read is a lifelong friend that I will miss if it leaves my home. I’ve regretted getting rid of some books, like my university books from 25 years ago. But I won’t regret getting rid of the paperback version of …. of…. of….

I’ve just returned to the couch after having a look through the bookshelves to find the books I CAN get rid of without looking back. I know they are there. I’m sure of it. Just can’t find them at the moment. I’ll get back to you on this one.

#7 – Know where your money goes. Do you start to see a theme here? Getting organized goes farther than stuff and books and time. It also involves money. If I want to save money I need to know where it’s going and make decisions about where it should be going. I have a copy of Quicken. I just have to use it. What better time to set it up and start tracking the ins and outs than January of a new year? I plan to start this very afternoon. Promise.

#6 – No more toys. I don’t need any more toys. I am rich with toys. A MacBook and an iMac. A drawer full of iPods. A new mobile phone (ok, that was free so it doesn’t really count). A TomTom ONE. A nice camera. It’s enough already. I have more toys than I have time to play with. I am going on a toys moratorium.
Having said that, last week I bought a 60eur electric milk frothing machine. It makes perfect milk for coffee. It’s small and cute and matches my espresso machine perfectly. Do kitchen toys count in this resolution? I guess so. First failure of the year.

#5 – Run the Dam to Dam. Last August I was about to sign up for this race when I found out that I was too late. It was full. 30,000 people had already signed up. 30,000! Now I have 9 months to get ready for this year. I’ve never run in a race before. I’m not even much of a runner. But I want to be and I’m pysched to do this. Now, if I can just stop getting injured (shin splints, sprained ankle) I’ll be ok.

Closely related to #5, and what would make running 16 miles easier is

#4 – Lose 6 kilos and keep it off. This is the one resolution that I started right away in January and have pretty much kept at it. I’m doing the South Beach diet – sort of. I’ve lost 1.5 kilos in 2 weeks which I think is ok. What will be interesting is going on vacation to New Zealand in February for 3.5 weeks. Will we be active enough to make up for eating more? If I go somewhere on vacation I really enjoy eating local food as much as possible. I want to taste everything. I like food. I like to eat. It likes me too and hangs around too easily. In the last 3 years I’ve gained those 6 kilos. My niece calls this “happy fat”. If you find yourself in a happy relationship, you cook together, you eat together, you share food as a social and intimate ritual of meals. And you put on weight. That’s what has happened to me. I’m still happy, but I just need to get my body back to healthy.

#3 – Stay healthy. Go to the gym regularly. Yoga at least once a week. Don’t stress at work. Learn to relax and do nothing.

#2 – Read a novel in Dutch. For Christmas this year I received a paperback novel in Dutch. Hint. Hint. I started a Dutch class last Fall but ended up dropping it because I had to travel for work more often than I thought I would have to. I missed half the classes in the end. But what I realized is that I know the language pretty well. I understand nearly everything. But I struggle to find the words when I want to carry on a conversation myself. I need to improve my vocabulary. I need to practice speaking. Teachers say that the best way to do both, without attending a class, is to read and also read out loud. OK. I’ll give it a try. I’m determined.

#1 – This isn’t really a resolution because you can’t really resolve this kind of thing. But anyway, its on the list – Celebrate becoming a Dutch citizen with a big party. I don’t have the approval yet. I haven’t been through the ceremony or have the piece of paper. But I know that it will come through some time in the next six months and deserves to be celebrated. I’m happy to be here. I feel at home here. Me and my Dutchie are a great team. Let’s celebrate!